Hello! How are you?
Happy Halloween! Happy Samhain! Dia de los Muertos!
I haven't blogged for a while. I hope you are all ok.
As autumn leaves fall and all is yellow and orange, saffron and amber, I have been keeping my head down and writing. I am working on two commissions, a piece on black feminist author Zora Neale Hurston and another on the punk legend Poly Styrene - I can reveal more about this new work when it is published.
This week I was honoured to take part in a conversation celebrating the life and work of Zora, thanks to Black Girls Book Club and Jackie Kay and The Royal Society of Literature and The British Library. It was immense and exciting to chat and zoom with you all and thanks to all who tuned in.
It is good to have the distraction. As the months of lockdown pass it is increasingly hard work to stay positive, to keep the head in the good place, a place of creativity and productivity, instead of a place of reaction and anger and outrage and grief. Each day more evidence of ineptitude and failure from our elected leaders. Books, reading and writing is keeping me sane. Each morning I seek good news and the good in the world. And may all the Gods and Goddesses protect Marcus Rashford. Solidarity with all who are speaking up and fighting for civil rights and human rights and the freedom to live in peace and love in peace.
Just a short blog this month from my bunker to share some books news and say thank you to all who have reviewed and preordered my debut novel. I'm delighted to discover my book is featured as a book of the month on Netgalley this week. If you are a member of book blogger you'll find me there now, it looks like this...
'Mrs Death Misses Death' also featured in The Bookseller as a Fiction Editors Choice. Alice O'Keeffe described the book as “an original, exuberant novel, freewheeling from prose to poetry to non fiction, truly one of a kind.” Thank you Alice!
And lastly, 'Mrs Death Misses Death' popped up and appeared in this piece about witches, ghosts and feminism in horror fiction - Amazing, amazing, amazing, thank you! Read the rest of this piece at Penguin
This autumn I'm focussing on the 'Mrs Death Misses Death' audiobook. I'm practising getting the narrator voice of Mrs Death right. Experimenting with her eerie enchantment, her rich, smoky, otherworldly presence. I am enjoying this part of the creative process. Here's some action shots taken by my editor Hannah Knowles from the first studio session from earlier this month...
We publish on the full Wolf moon, January 28th 2021 with Canongate
This is a lovely moony serendipity, that the book is published on that full moon, the full Wolf Moon. I know my characters Wolf and Mrs Death would like this very much, it is as if they planned it.
You can preorder the book now, support local business and find Mrs Death at your favourite neighbourhood bookshops, it is also available at Waterstones and on the high street. For the record, I take none of this for granted. For decades I have got so used to dragging a box of books up and down the country and jumping on trains going from gig to gig to sell my books out of a battered old suitcase.
I am longing to perform again: the fizz and excitement of waiting behind the black curtain backstage. The clicking sound of my silver boot heels walking across the hollow stage floor of a big theatre. The hot lights on my face, squinting to see you all, then holding the microphone tight and waiting for hush and saying ‘hello my name is Salena, I have a new poem I want to share with you today’. Then the rustle of a page, the stomach ache, the nerves, the vibration of your laughter and the magic of sharing an hour of hope and human connection.
I am missing all of you and all of this. I miss my friends, all the poets and the writers, shouting in crowded pubs, theatres and festivals. I miss the travel and mischief. I am missing doing my job, doing what I know, what I do best and what I love. I even miss dragging that battered heavy suitcase of stage outfits and books on and off over crowded trains with raging anxiety and period cramps and a killer hangover and no money for a tea..
If this was normal times I'd be gigging with the book by now and rehearsing Mrs Death's voice by reading it that way, testing it on live audiences, and with best friends and rum at the kitchen table after shows. But here we are, trying to be creative and productive, to make art, to make noise, to speak up for injustice, to help others, to come from a place of love, here and now, using what we can and all we have.
Viva the artists! Viva the poets! Viva the scientists! Viva the key workers and nurses and doctors! Viva the hope punks! Viva the truth seekers! Viva!
Here's the 2nd lockdown. I hope you are ok. I hope you remember to count your blessings each day, to nourish your soul, to stay healthy, and can do all you can to keep you and yours safe and sound. I'm staying home and in hibernating mode. Most days I'm writing and sharing work and any good news I can find online, and crying and laughing with you all inside this buzz of the electric pulse of the sticky interwebs. In my dream world, you and me, we are having the best and most vivid of times too. Lockdown dreams are where I travel and fly and see you all...
Happy full Hunter moon this weekend - It must be good to have a fat full moon energy on a Halloween weekend - All Hallows Eve, All Saints, Day of the Dead. Light your candles, burn sage, take salt, add clove, a sip of moon water, open your heart, raise your glass, sing and dance, pray and heal, cast your intentions, ask the moon nicely for light in the darkness, for good things, the best things, the things we need and must achieve to survive,
With love, grief and fury